The economic consequences of family policies: lessons from a century of legislation in high-income countries
By the early 21st century, most high-income countries have put into effect a host of generous and virtually gender-neutral parental leave policies and family benefits, with the multiple goals of gender equity, higher fertility, and child development. What have been the effects? Proponents typically emphasize the contribution of family policies to the goals of gender equity and child development, enabling women to combine careers and motherhood, and altering social norms regarding gender roles. Opponents often warn that family policies may become a long-term hindrance to women's careers because of the loss of work experience and the higher costs to employers that hire women of childbearing age. We draw lessons from existing work and our own analysis on the effects of parental leave and other interventions aimed at aiding families. We present country- and micro-level evidence on the effects of family policy on gender outcomes, focusing on female employment, gender gaps in earnings, and fertility. Most estimates range from negligible to a small positive impact. But the verdict is far more positive for the beneficial impact of spending on early education and childcare.
1 December 2017
Journal of Economic Perspectives 31(1) , pp.205-230, , Winter, 2017
This Journal article is published under the centre's Labour markets programme.
This publication comes under the following theme: Gender in the labour market